Galo Ramirez was once LA’s most notorious paparazzi. Now he’s simply part of the Brit Pack.
Ramirez was involved in one of the most high-profile celebrity-paparazzo crashes, when in May 2006 his vehicle collided with Lindsay Lohan’s. The crash helped to prompt a new state law penalizing reckless photographers.
Ramirez, now 27, was immediately dropped from Boris Nizon’s Fame agency as police said he faced assault with a deadly weapon charges. He became the subject of his former colleague’s photos, as they parked outside his home waiting to get a shot of the man who allegedly attacked Lohan.
“I was getting doorstepped for a month,” Ramirez said. “They flipped the lens on me.”
After a long non-pap job search, he landed a gig doing office work in the MRI department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
But when an LA Times article was published noting that prosecutors weren’t pressing charges, his former job was out of the bag. “That same day I got fired,” he said.
Another agency, JFX Direct, eventually hired him, and now proudly displays a Lohan crash momento.
“We actually have a piece of her car in our office,” his boss Arnold Cousart said, smiling.
Cousart, 35, got his start working in a photo lab frequented by veteran non-digital paparazzo Frank Grifin, whom he refers to as “Uncle Frank.” After stints at the Fame and X17 agencies, he launched his own enterprise seven years ago, naming it after the street gang Jefrox that he and Huapaya had grown up in.
“Some of my best pictures are in the LAPD archives,” Cousart joked of photo albums taken in police raids targeting the gang.
Now, the agency sells to the world’s biggest celebrity magazines and Web sites. And it’s as deeply involved in Spears’ odd life as any.
Spears was at her attorney’s office several months ago with boyfriend and paparazzo Adnan Ghalib when a sudden rush of media gathered outside. Hoping to avoid the crowds, Ghalib called JFX’s Britney team leader, Jonzen Cousart, Arnold’s brother, to ask for a favor. He wanted out, quietly and without pictures.
Cousart and colleague Ulises Rios escorted the couple out a back entrance into a car, covered them in a black blanket and drove past the unsuspecting media horde.
“Ten minutes ago, we’re trying to get a shot, and then we had to have our cameras off,” Rios said. “We’re like Secret Service.”
They dropped the couple off at a Best Western hotel in LA’s San Fernando Valley, and went back to pick up Ghalib’s car once the media dissapated.
“We got a $100,000 story on our hands and we can’t do anything about it,” Cousart said. “Because of the nature of the business now, you’re so close to the celebrity, you become part of the story.”